We’ve all seen the ads and watched the commercials, and know how quickly a simple text while driving can take a turn for the worse. Some of us have even signed the “It Can Wait” pledge, vowing to never text and drive. With all of the media surrounding the negative aftermath of a texting and driving accident, drivers often forget that distracted driving in general is just as dangerous.
Distracted driving is a common occurrence, especially this time of year when there are plenty of distractions. Planning the most efficient holiday shopping route, wondering if you remembered to turn off the oven, trying to come up with an excuse to avoid eating Great Aunt Abel’s famous fruit cake this year, did you leave a reminder for your boss about the rescheduled meeting, does your nephew want games for an Xbox or ps4? And the list goes on and on. Maybe sending one little reminder text won’t hurt…you’d better think again! For starters, just one text at the wrong time can lead to an accident, and with that long list of distractions do you really want to add car crash to your list?
Another thing to keep in mind is that you’re not the only distracted driver on the road. If you have ten things going on this week that are vying for your attention, you can bet that every other driver on the road has ten things going on to distract them as well. You swerve slightly to the left while they swerve slightly to the right, and the next thing you know, you’re the crash causing the back-up on I-25.
In 2012, approximately 421,000 people were injured in a driving accident involving a distracted driver, which is an increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011. Additionally, 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
But what constitutes “distracted driving”? Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
I’m sure everyone can admit to a time when they’ve been distracted while driving. With updated technology making is easier to stay connected, it feels like we need to always be connected and multi-tasking! There’s probably been a few times when you’ve been using your cell phone while driving just because it was available, not because you actually wanted to get ahold of someone. Next time you’re driving and you begin reaching for your cell phone, radio dial, or breakfast, pause for a moment and remember these statistics, and just wait until you’ve parked at your destination.
Here are some ways to make it easier to drive without becoming distracted:
- If you’re in the middle of a text conversation as you begin driving, let the other person know that you’re in the car and will respond when you can.
- If you remember something pressing while driving, safely pull off onto a side street and place a reminder on your calendar.
- So you need to use the navigation – enter your destination into the navigation system before you start driving. Take a look at the entire route, and remember key roads and exits. Pay attention to the navigation’s directions, and wait until you are able to safely pull over before looking at the device.
- Don’t text and drive. It takes the average person 4.6 seconds to unlock their phone and read a text while driving. At 55 miles per hour, you’ve already crossed an entire football field! It can wait.
- Have your passengers text for you! They are your co-pilots after all, so have them use the navigation system and send texts, so you can be fully focused on driving.
- Do your makeup/eat your breakfast/drink your coffee/read the morning paper BEFORE getting into your car. While it might save a few minutes to multi-task on these items, those few minutes of extra sleep aren’t worth a potential motor vehicle accident.
- Secure your pets before driving. Nothing is more distracting than Fido becoming too much of a “happy dog” and suddenly hanging halfway out the window.
- Know the laws to avoid getting a ticket, but in general, don’t participate in any other activity while driving.
If your or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a distracted driver, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Bendinelli Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation today. We’ll help you get the help you need.